DMCACompliance

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Soylent News Policy In Compliance With The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA)

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Preface

As a corporation established in the United States, Soylent News PBC is subject to US law. This includes the DMCA, whose provisions govern how we must handle content posted publicly by our users that is known to be, or suspected to be, in violation of a US copyright held by another entity.

In order to take advantage of what is called the 'Safe Harbor' provisions of the DMCA, which limit monetary damages to us in case one of our users posts copyrighted material, we have followed the provisions of that law and registered the required information with the copyright office. A copy of that registration and the contact information it contains (our 'designated DMCA Agent') may be found on the US Copyright Office site here (pdf).

The next section describes how we will handle such cases. For a deeper understanding of why we have found it necessary to adopt these policies, please read the section below titled #Rationale.

User Policy

There are two slightly different situations where action is required by the DMCA in regards to possible copyright violations which come to our attention.

1. We receive a formal DMCA Notice

In this case our actions are almost completely dictated by the law itself.

  1. If you are a registered user
    1. We will try to contact you through the email address you are registered under and ask you to remove the material
    2. If this is not done within 24 hours of when we receive the DMCA notice, we will remove the material ourselves, using any expedient means, which may include a direct database edit, resetting the password on your account so we can edit it and sending you a password reset email, or other means as required.
    3. If appropriate, or needed as a place holder, the offending material will be replaced with a notice indicating that some material has been removed as a possible copyright violation, due to a formal DMCA request.
  2. If you are not a registered user
    1. We will remove the material as soon as is practically possible, and leave in its place a note indicating material has been removed as a possible copyright violation, due to a formal DMCA request.
  3. In the event of a dispute, the user is required by law to follow the formal DMCA provisions and file a DMCA compliant 'Counter Notification'
  4. The form of a counter notification is described below, as directly quoted from the law.
    • (3) CONTENTS OF COUNTER NOTIFICATION.—To be effective under this subsection, a counter notification must be a written communication provided to the service provider’s designated agent that includes substantially the following:
      • (A) A physical or electronic signature of the subscriber.
      • (B) Identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed or access to it was disabled.
      • (C) A statement under penalty of perjury that the subscriber has a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.
      • (D) The subscriber’s name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located, or if the subscriber’s address is outside of the United States, for any judicial district in which the service provider may be found, and that the subscriber will accept service of process from the person who provided notification under subsection (c)(1)(C) or an agent of such person.
  1. In the event a properly written counter notification is received, staff will evaluate it on its merits and decide whether to restore the material, (no sooner than 10 days nor later than 14 days as required by law) and send a copy to the entity which filed the DMCA complaint (as required by law) OR, to not restore it.
  2. Please understand that the next step in the event of a restoration is likely a legal case brought by the DMCA filer. Due to our extremely limited means, we are likely to take a very cautious approach at such times, and are specifically protected in this by the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA itself.

2. A possible copyright violation is brought to our attention by any other means

In this case we have somewhat more flexibility. We are not required to actively seek knowledge of copyright violations by our users, and do not have any practical technical means to do so. However, the law does require that if we become aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent we must act expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material.

In this case:

  1. If you are a registered user
    1. We will try to contact you through the email address you are registered under and ask you to remove the material, establish that it is a clear 'fair use' of the material, that it is in fact not in copyright, or that you hold the copyright.
    2. No more than 7 days will be allowed for a reply.
    3. If no reply is received within several days, we MAY but are not required to, try to contact you through other means such as a comment left on your journal or in the main site comments.
    4. After receipt of your reply, or no later than 7 days if attempts to contact you or receive a reply have been unsuccessful, staff will evaluate the likelihood that the material is infringing, and either decide it is likely not, or remove the material ourselves, using any expedient means, which may include a direct database edit, resetting the password on your account so we can edit it and sending you a password reset email, or by other means as required.
    5. If appropriate, or needed as a place holder, the offending material will be replaced with a notice indicating that some material has been removed as a possible copyright violation, due to staff concerns.
  1. If you are not a registered user
    1. Staff will do its best to evaluate whether the material is likely to be infringing, based upon available information, within 72 hours.
    2. If the material is considered likely infringing, it will be removed using any expedient means,
    3. If appropriate, or needed as a place holder, the offending material will be replaced with a notice indicating that some material has been removed as a possible copyright violation, due to staff concerns.

Some Things Our Users Need To Be Aware Of

  • It is not always obvious, but just about everything submitted to our site (with the exception of some user information, and articles submitted but not yet edited) is completely public and can be found by the searches of copyright holders looking to enforce their copyrights. So please be careful. If in doubt, leave it out.
  • We are not required by law to actively seek out copyright enfringement. We do not do so, and have no practical technical means to do so. However if we become aware of a possible copyright infringement, we are required by law - with or without an actual formal DMCA notice - to investigate it, in order to maintain our safe harbor status.
  • It is very important that we can contact you should there be a problem, or potential problem. In the event of an actual DMCA notice we have a relatively short time to respond (read the time limits above). Please make sure the email address you are registered under is current, and is actually monitored. There may well be edge cases when some input from you would be invaluable, but we cannot hear it if we cannot contact you within the time frames mentioned above.
  • In view of our circumstances, we must take a very straightforward reading of the law, and cannot afford to dispute edge cases. This is quite likely to be unfair at times. Please understand our position. The law is rather heavily weighted toward the copyright holders. There is nothing we can do about that at present.


Rationale

We (Soylent News, PBC) are an entirely volunteer run operation with no paid staff. Members of our community volunter to edit articles and perform other duties. Our only expenses are those needed to provide servers and access and pay minimal taxes and bookeeping expenses related to our status as a PBC. These, in total, amount to only a few thousand dollars per year.

Our only source of income is voluntary contributions from our users. While they have been generous, their numbers are small.

In view of this, it is clear there is no practical way for us to fund the level of legal expenses related to legal challenges.


Reference Materials